Chat with Chris Mortensen
Mortensen, an award-winning journalist and one of the most respected and accomplished reporters covering the NFL, joined ESPN in 1991 and appears on Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and SportsCenter.
Send your questions now and join Mort on Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
Rouz (Santa Barbara, CA)
HI Mort, love your work. Just wondering despite contract extensions for AJ and Norv, do you see a scenario in which Spanos cleans house at the end of the year. If you look at AJ's last 3-4 drafts, we are not seeing much impact from the players he has drafted and the lack of depth is now evident with the injuries they have had. This team is not physical enough to compete with the Steelers, Jets and Ravens of the world, and god help us if Dean Spanos ever hands the keys of the organization to John Spanos
Chris Mortensen (11:10 AM)
I don't know how the Spanos family will react if the Chargers actually miss the playoffs. With their stadium (or lack thereof) situation, will they have the conviction to eat the contracts? But the Chargers have frustrated the fan base the past few years with slow starts only to turn it around. Now they have significant injuries with the Patriots coming to town. I say let the season unfold. Let's see what happens by or in December.
mort-is wade philps in hot water in dallas?
Chris Mortensen (11:11 AM)
Sure. It isn't quite boiling yet, though. It will be boiling, I think, if the Cowboys lose this home game Monday night to Giants.
whats the latest on colts te dallas clark?
Chris Mortensen (11:13 AM)
It looks very bleak for Clark, who has a wrist/hand injury that may need surgery and probably end season. The Colts have a bye this week - I'm not sure they'd be able to field a team for Sunday.
Mort be real with us here. Are we going to see a suspension for Brett Favre this year. Wont he appeal and drag this thing out until the end of the season and FINALLY retire before his streak comes to an end from a suspension??
Chris Mortensen (11:16 AM)
No, the NFL will not drag this out. They want a conclusive result by end of the month. We don't know they will get the necessary evidence (cell phone records, cell phone itself, etc.). If they had enough to suspend him, the NFL announces it. Then Favre has only 10 days to appeal and commissioner has been huge on accelerated appeal process. I think this is a key week.
What do you think of Cowherd's comment that the league has "figured out" Flacco? He said Flacco only uses 2 progressions, his #1 read and a checkdown to RB. If you take that away, he can't get the ball to his #2 and #3 WR's.
Chris Mortensen (11:18 AM)
I haven't heard that from one NFL (opposing) coach. I didn't like play-calling late in game, though I know heading into a fairly strong wind may have influenced the play-calling. Too bad because he has the arm and spins the ball well to play in that kind of wind. The Ravens also do not have a true "vertical" speed receiver (no, Boldin is not that type of guy).
any truth to the rumors that collie and garcon are banged up as well?
Chris Mortensen (11:19 AM)
Yes, both are hurt. They don't practice much, if any, which isn't good for the quarterback or the young receivers. They need to get Gonzalez healthy, too.
very frustrating to be a GB fan Mort. No notable FA signings, terrible special teams, undisciplined, etc. are the GM or Coach ever going to be held or hold anyone accountable?
Chris Mortensen (11:22 AM)
Be careful what you ask for. Mike McCarthy is a very good coach. Ted Thompson is a very good GM. I do question Thompson's conservative approach by not utilizing trades and free agency more aggressively. You cannot deny that injuries have put a significant dent into the Packers. It's not an excuse. It's reality. I know McCarthy has to be frustrated with special teams because it was a point of emphasis.
Is it safe to say that Rex Ryan will make it easier for the Jets to acquire free agents at a lower price than the competition?
Chris Mortensen (11:23 AM)
Not really. History shows that free agents go where the money is. If all things are equal, then Rex might be a favorable tie-breaker.
Any chance Antonio Gates plays Sunday? If not do the Chargers have much of a chance?
Chris Mortensen (11:24 AM)
I think Gates is very iffy. And if he doesn't play, I don't like the Chargers' chances. As Phillip Rivers said, Gates is major factor - the most critical factor, I think, other than Rivers himself. Without Gates, you'd have to like Patriots in this one.
Hey Mort! Do you think Merriman has anything left? Where do you think he'll land?
Chris Mortensen (11:26 AM)
I can't definitively say that Merriman has nothing left in the tank. A healthy Merriman can be a player. The 49ers make sense because their DC Greg Manusky once coached the linebackers (and Merriman) in San Diego and they would get an early shot to claim Merriman on waivers because of their 1-5 record.
Hey Mort, you know how Cleveland fans are dying for a winner?? Well, even in a loss, we all saw potential from Colt. Now are we crazy? I think so, but tell us what you and the experts at ESPN saw from Colt last week. Thanks Mort!!
Chris Mortensen (11:27 AM)
I think we were pleasantly surprised by Colt McCoy's performance but it's a little premature. What you had to like was how composed he was in a very tough situation. I would caution about getting overly excited this early but it was encouraging.
Mike (Boca Raton)
Are you surprised by what might be considered as current and former player backlash regarding the fines and hits from this past weekend? Do you think the league really is all that concerned by this reaction?
Chris Mortensen (11:30 AM)
The league is only concerned about the reaction because it believes it is not based on having real knowledge...such, as these rules are already in place and even the latest rule was implemented in 2008 to include going at a DEFENSELESS players head and neck area with a helmet, shoulder or forearm. That's not news. Also, remember that the NFL suspended and fined ($50,000) Jets S Eric Smith in '08 for that hit on Boldin? Or that Dante Wesley of the Panthers was suspended last year for a hit on Fletcher Smith of the Bucs. I think getting back to a factual representation will calm things down.
Stephen (Jackson, MS)
Why all the fuss about the NFL new emphasis on "big hits"? After all, we are only really talking about 4 to 6 plays a week at most out of 14 to 16 games per week.
Chris Mortensen (11:32 AM)
It's not big hits. It's illegal hits. And you're right it was maybe three or four plays out of 1,700 or so this past week. The NFL just wants to bring players back to the boundaries - nobody wants to see a paralysis or a death on field...do we?
To what do you attribute the atrocious offensive line play we are witnessing this season?
Chris Mortensen (11:34 AM)
Drafting. Development. Stability. Injuries. Depth. I always have felt the most underrated component of good/great team success and consistent quarterback play is the stability and performance of the offensive line. There also are some pretty good O-line coaches who have left the league in recent years via retirement.
Do you think considering their light schedule the chiefs will be able to clench home field? If so do you think they go deep in playoffs?
Chris Mortensen (11:36 AM)
Never assume anything based on schedule but I am a believer in the Chiefs. Now, go deep in playoffs? How about winning the division first? I do think this team is eventually getting there, either this year or next.
matt (miami, fl)
Morning, Mort... what are your thoughts on Henne so far? My main problem with him is how he stares down his receivers, it really get gets my goat!
Chris Mortensen (11:39 AM)
I think he has looked better the past three games. Sometimes, a QB has to stare down receivers if it's an anticipation route. But I don't have a zoom-camera on his eyes every play so I don't know. He's a work in progress. Still a young QB and they're in the hunt.
What would be your guess to what the Eagles do next year at QB? Do they favor bringing back Vick or Kolb or both?
Chris Mortensen (11:40 AM)
My guess is Kolb will be the QB but, let's face it, we won't know until we see them play the rest of the year. They could always place a franchise tag on Vick and have both QBs in 2011.
Mort, how ridiculous are (were) James Harrison's threats of retirement? What a baby. These guys should really learn to shut their mouths a little better.
Chris Mortensen (11:43 AM)
As Mike Tomlin, Steelers coach, Harrison says a lot of things he doesn't mean. Harrison is a great player. However, if he really believes he can't make some adjustments within the rules, then he should retire. It would be honorable, especially with a good portion of money he would have to pay back after getting a big contract last year.
Mort, who would you say is the best young OL coach in the league?
Chris Mortensen (11:44 AM)
Jets OL coach Bill Callahan is not young young but he's probably coaching as well as anyone right now.
mort i love your work on sunday countdown but who is crazier, tom jackson, or you?
Chris Mortensen (11:45 AM)
If you asked all of those guys on NFL Countdown, I think the crazy vote would come down to Ditka and me. Now that may surprise you but I don't think I'm exaggerating. In the end, I think Ditka wins out.
when is reggie bush expected back and is he even gonna start?
Chris Mortensen (11:46 AM)
I think Bush will be back within the next 2 to 4 weeks and his role will remain the same.
Offenses should start crack back blocking guys on the defense multiple times a game and let's see how the defensive guys like to be hit when they are essentially defenseless.
Chris Mortensen (11:48 AM)
Defenseless defensive players are now protected by the rules, as well. Remember the Hines ward rule implemented in 2008? Hitting a defender on a blindside to the head or neck area also is subject to penalty, fine and suspension.
I can't remember seeing a a rookie opening day starter at QB look as poised as Bradford has since Dan Marino in '83. Is this due more to a weak schedule or Bradford might just be the real deal?
Chris Mortensen (11:49 AM)
The consensus around the league is that Bradford is the real deal and some of them are surprised at how well he's doing. He also has shown a toughness they didn't necessarily anticipate this early.
J Treehorn (Malibu)
Mort - Falcons or Saints to win the NFC South? Whaddya think?
Chris Mortensen (11:50 AM)
I have waffled all year. Saints will be healthier in the second half of the season. I believe both make the playoffs and giving a very slight edge to Saints winning the division.
mort-what about you and adam? are you guys goofy sometimes?
Chris Mortensen (11:51 AM)
Adam's too intense to be goofy.
Chris Mortensen (11:52 AM)
Scarnecchia is a great O-line coach for the Patriots and I think perhaps the most unsung NFL assistant of the past 15 years.
J Washington (Hahnville, Louisiana)
do think that was too much money for Harrison
Chris Mortensen (11:54 AM)
No, James Harrison really is a great player and worth every penny he got on the contract, in my opinion, because he also was vastly underpaid with the previous contract. If you're talking about the fine, its' relevant. He was a second time offender this year. In fact, go to You Tube or some other video you can find on his body slam of Vince Young earlier this season. Watch it and tell me what you think. It was pretty significant. And I do believe the fines are steeper when a player is injured on an illegal hit.
How ridiculous are Cleveland fans' complaints about Harrison's hits? Cribbs himself said he was fine with Harrison and there was nothing dirty.
Chris Mortensen (11:55 AM)
The hit on Cribbs was legal. He was running out of the wildcat formation. He was not considered a defenseless player and the NFL did not cite that play in disciplining Harrison.
why not trade VJax for Shaun Rogers? Makes sense for both teams.
Chris Mortensen (11:56 AM)
Too late now. The trade deadline passed on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Scott (Boston, MA)
speaking of OL, how do you view the progress of Trent Williams? It would appear he's held his own against some of the best DE's in the league (Ware, Mario Williams, Freeney) thus far. Did the skins make the right choice here?
Chris Mortensen (11:57 AM)
So far, he looks pretty good for a rookie. Most teams felt Williams had the greater upside and was more athletic than Russell Okung but he had some real red flags with work ethic, laziness, etc., so he has dispelled those concerns, at this point.
Tom Brady is a top 5 QB all time in my mind. However, his whining and crying everytime he gets hit has gotten very old, especially for Ravens fans, and especially when he dives at defensive players knees. Did you see him dive at Suggs knees on the Brandon Tate end around in the 1st qtr? You'd think a guy who lost a season because of that type of play and a guy who complains every time he gets touched wouldn't make that type of dirty play. What are your thoughts on this issue?
Chris Mortensen (12:00 PM)
I'm a huge Brady fan but I do think we have a better understanding of how competitive he is. He plays the game with a lot of passion and sometimes that leads to overstated reactions. The play you're talking about when he went at Suggs' knees appeared questionable but it's never wise to take those guys on with a high hit. I'm sure we'll revisit this topic, especially if the Ravens and Patriots should make the playoffs and play each other again.
Chris Mortensen (12:03 PM)
I have to cut it off here because of some phone and radio commitments. Speaking of which, you can catch The Mort Report on ESPN Radio and especially ESPNRadio.com every Friday night at 9 ET. We're also online with a variety of podcasts and archived segments. Great show coming on ESPN TV with Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 a.m. ET. And you can always pick me up on Twitter via @mortreport. Thanks and God Bless!